Monday night marked a new era in Brookfield’s relationship with the local press. For the first time in at least two years, and possibly longer, Brookfield supplied a complete board information packet to members of the press.
Every item on the board agenda, from construction bid awards to contracts to inter-governmental agreements to minutes of village board meetings were included in the packet. The only things not forwarded to the press were the village’s “warrants”?”the list of bills paid by the village for its day-to-day operation. Those warrants come in a format that can be described as antiquated; perhaps that is the reason. Maybe when the village’s outdated computer system is finally brought into the 21st century, the press will be able to get copies of those as well.
At any rate, residents need to know the importance of such simple openness. The press is the conduit of information from the board table to residents. Not everything contained in the board packet is critical or even interesting. But a free flow of information from village hall to the press, means that residents will be more likely to receive complete, accurate information about what is going on in village government.
The current administration and new Village Manager Riccardo Ginex have promised a more transparent operation. In this instance, they are attempting to make good on that pledge. It’s something residents should applaud their local officials for doing, even if previous administrations ought to have been doing so all along.
We can’t promise that the news resulting from this new openness will always be good news, but at least residents will know the bad?”and the good?”about what is going on inside village hall.
The 11th hour
It’s not a done deal, but it looks as if an unpleasant showdown over part of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Coonley Estate has been avoided.
Dean Eastman, whose painstaking restoration of the principal residential structure of the estate has returned it to its former glory, appears to be working on a deal whereby he will assume ownership of the coach house while allowing its current owner to remain there indefinitely.
If the deal is consummated, not just Riversiders, but anyone who understands the importance of the Coonley Estate within the Wright oeuvre, can be assured that the coach house will in time be restored by Eastman. The Coonley Estate marks the high-water mark?”as well as the end?”of Wright’s Prairie-style period.
Soon after its completion, Wright left his Oak Park home for good and began his long march toward the utopian style he would develop by the mid-1930s. The intervening years were transitional ones for Wright, in which he experimented with materials, form and spatial planning on both residential and large public buildings.
But he never really returned to the Oak Park-era Prairie style, of which the Coonley Estate and the Robie House in Chicago represented the pinnacle.
It’s interesting to note that both structures were headed toward a date with the wrecking ball before preservationists?”like Carolyn Howlett?”stepped in to save them. Eastman carries on that legacy of preservation, and we’re better off for it.